/ Haute route conditions.

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Chay - on 07 Jun 2013
Hi All,

Booked to fly out to the Alps in exactly two weeks with the idea of walking the glacier haute route.

Hearing some worrying conditions reports so I'm looking for some advice from people living out there or recently been out there. A) What's it like? B) Do you think we have any chance? C) Should we be considering other plans?

C
testagrigia - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Chay:
Well, as a matter of principle, one should always have other plans, especially in the Alps... That said, there was up to 1m of snow above 2000m in the Western Alps last weekend and conditions are more like April than June with folks still skiing around. But there is a decent stretch of clear weather in prospect and a week or so of daytime thaw and overnight freeze should make for walkable conditions. I assume that if you are equipped for glacier travel, the lower than normal snow line will not be a problem, except perhaps for route finding, but the Haute Route should be well enough tracked. All the same, you may want to have a lower-level alternative in your back pocket in case the Haute Route turns out to be altogether too wintery.
Chay - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to testagrigia: Thanks very much!

We have back up plans should the conditions not pan out for the Haute; however, we've wanted to do it for a long time so really keen to try and egt it done..

Really encouraging information and hopefully the spell of weather to come will yield acceptable conditions. We are very competent and experienced with regard to glacier travel and have plenty of navigation experienced.

Would it be worth investing in some snow shoes to get through the worst parts?

Thanks again! Fingers crossed.

C
Chay - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Chay: Any updated thoughts?

C
jon on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Chay:

I don't really understand your fears. Having more snow on a glacier trek is a good thing. It makes for far more straightforward travel and also looks much better on the photos. With the hot weather we are currently having, any fresh snow from the previous few weeks will either melt or transform into good hard snow. The folk that WILL be affected few the next few weeks are the Tour du Mont Blanc-ers and Walkers' Haute Routers where their footpaths go around shady north facing couloirs and the like.
Chay - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to jon: If there's a vast amounts of soft fresh snow that makes walking on glaciers pretty tiring/slow progress. Therefore the fears were that the whether conditions weren't warm enough to melt away/form firm snow, that's why I posted about current conditions?

Chay - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Chay: I'm not out there and weather forecasts aren't perfect.
Rigid Raider - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Chay:

Sheesh.... why would anybody want to WALK the Haute Route when with touring skis you can walk up the hills then ski down them?

That's like running - why do people run when God gave us bicycles?
Chay - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Rigid Raider: Mainly because I've never done any skiing..at all..not even faffed around on skis.

Hopefully walking it will make for a good trip; we hope to do some other stuff around Zermatt at the end of the trip to. Perhaps the matterhorn, but who knows what the conditions will be like for that.

C

P.S I'm an avid road cyclist and actively avoid running ;)
jon on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Chay:

You won't be the only people on the Haute Route... it's probably the most popular glacier trek and gets guided all the time. Even if it doesn't freeze or there's fresh snow it's unlikely that you'll be breaking trail - there will be a track. If you are still worried about it, stick to the most popular itinerary, ie don't try to take in any less well travelled variants:

Le Tour > Albert 1er > Col Sup du Tour > Cab Trient > Champex

Talk to folk at the Trient - if you can't find anyone going via Valsorey, you can miss it out by going to Mauvoisin and up to Chanrion. That's the way I always go as it avoids all the objective dangers of the Valsorey > Chanrion day.

Chanrion > Otemma > Vignettes > Col l'Eveque > Plan de Bertol > Cab Bertol > Tête Blanche > Col Valpeline > Schönbiel > Zermatt.

In addition to it being the Haute Route, remember that a lot of the places you'll go are popular areas in their own right so there'll be tracks everywhere. Start on a Sunday or Monday and you'll be in sync or a day behind everyone else. It's a brilliant trek. Take no notice of folk banging on about skis...
Chay - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to jon: Hi Jon,

Thanks for the info, settles any doubts about conditions and we can now just look foward! Our plans are:

1. Le Tour - Albert 1er 2. Trek via orney and down to champex and get a bus to the Mauvision reservoir and camp around there 3. Trek from there over col du mont rouge, and col de chileion and down to Dix hut. 4. Dix hut to vignettes 5. Vignettes to Bertol 6. Bertol to Schonbiel 7. Potter down into Zermatt.

We have maps and descriptions etc for these days and plan to split the nights between camping and huts.

We plan to start on the Saturday/Sunday 22nd or 23rd.

Cheers,
C

jon on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Chay:

You should find some good camping spots after the dam - you could camp below but that would add to your next day. The only part of your itinerary that is likely to be less travelled will be the day leading to the Dix, more specifically across the top of the Glacier de Giétro. (You could always change that when you see the conditions on your first two days, should you need to.) Does your itin lead direct to the Col du Mont Rouge or does it follow the Chanrion path as far as the Col de Tsofeiret then turn left and go over the Col de Lire Rose (I can't remember if there's a path going direct...?). If the latter there would be good camping by the lakes below Tsofeiret - not that I've done that, but have often walked through there and thought it would be idyllic. This would be a couple of hours after the dam.
Chay - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to jon: The description just says "climb steeply on rough trails to the col de lire rose"...from the map it heads almost direct from the end of the lac then bears slightly left towards the chanrion hut. The map isn't overly detailed (I've ordered better ones)

We definitely plan to camp after the Dam and like the idea of the lakes below Tsofeiret for camping, seems perfect.

What about supplies? Is champex the last place to pick food/supplies up?

C
jon on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Chay:

Zoom in on this: http://map.schweizmobil.ch/?lang=en

There are shops in Champex. I think you change buses in Orsières (I always take a taxi - split between a bunch of people it's no more expensive, and therefore don't stop off there). There are probably shops there and also at Le Châble (maybe you change buses there too?) but you could shop at Champex while waiting for the bus. Beware, I think the little supermarket is no longer. You could check on that with the Office du Tourisme.
Chay - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to jon: When zoom-ing in it appears that it goes direct rather than coming left.

C
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jon on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Chay:

The path from Mauvoisin follows the east side of the lake. So cross the dam and follow a dirt road at first, then the path short cuts the road with a few steepish zig zags and eventually heads due south, gently rising all the way to the Col de Tsofeiret. It's a really nice path with great views. The cabane de Chanrion is about 1.5km after the col de Tsofeiret. You wouldn't go to it as the path splits at the col de Tsofeiret and goes left up to the Col de Lire Rose. I think you are under the impression that the path goes along the west side of the lake? Well this is possible but it's a road and it ends you up at the end of the lake and obliges you to make a steep flog up to the lacs de Tsofeiret. The path I describe is the correct/best way.

Note that there's also another way from the dam via the Col de Giétro (I think), then up this glacier to the col de Cheilon but I don't know anything about it.

As for the taxi, it's quite expensive but you could try to find others to share it. Maybe a couple of hundred SF. It's normally a nine seater.

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